Tools of the trade

Most of my research has focused on solutions to problems that rely to a great deal on field observations and subsequent microscopic research. Some of the most interesting discoveries are the small things such as the nature of a microvertebrate population, or the usefulness of the rapid evolution of planktonic foraminifera. Emile Pessagno and I (as well as John Lewis and Hans Schellekens) contributed to the solutions of terrane ages and plate movements using radiolarian microfossils. Now, I am working on projects that involve small foraminifers that tell stories of huge waves sweeping over barrier islands and of tiny bits of plastic that are alarmingly collecting in our ecosystem.

The present

  1. Paleotempestology of the Gulf of Mexico margin and in the Caribbean. The goal is to trace major storms back in time for a few thousand years based mostly on sedimentology, paleontology, and radiometric dating. Several cores are promising.
  2. Assessment of microplastics in the coastal ecosystem. Work has begun in association with two talented researchers in the chemistry department at UTD.

Microplastic pollution. Synthetic fibers in Galveston Bay come is a range of colors, shapes, and sizes. Sand grains for scale in the image. The stuff is everywhere. The first project on microplastics in the bay behind Follets Island revealed a preponderance of rayon fibers.

Meshing science with education

Of particular interest is incorporating research into education. My frst graduate student to work on this sort of project is Hillary Fulgham who is working on the Follets Island cores for the first half of her thesis. The second half will be the creation of a Project Based Learning unit that stems from her research. She expects to publish each part. Hopefully, there will be other graduate students who follow this model.

A test project using Problem Based Learning in a science classroom: Montgomery and Donaldson, 2014, Using Problem-Based Learning to Deliver a More Authentic Experience in Paleontology. Journal of Geoscience Education, v. 62, p. 714-724.

Recent past (my work in the Big Bend of Texas is at an end)

Montgomery and Barnes, 2012, Paleolimnology of Uppermost Cretaceous Lacustrine Deposits in Western Texas. Palaios, v. 27, p. 386-394.

Montgomery and Clark, 2016, Paleoecology of the Gaddis site in the Upper Cretaceous Aguja Formation, Terlingua, Texas. Palaios, v. 31, p. 347-357.

Figure 5

Fossils from the microvertebrate lens. Scale bars are 1.0 mm.

The future involves some research

I plan to leave UTD at the end of the summer of 2018 to pursue other projects. My major role will be working as a research scientist for a new museum being built in Lajitas, Texas.